Digital citizens need real world knowledge too

It was fascinating to be at the inaugural Digital Citizens event in Sydney last week – the topic was: Private Parts: Personality and Disclosure – Finding a Balance in the Digital Space.

There was a great line up on the panel with visiting US lawyer and social media specialist Adrian Dayton (Social Media for Lawyers), Sam North (Ogilvy PR), Damian Damjanovski (BMF), and Renai LeMay (Delimiter), all wrangled expertly by the moderator Bronwen Clune (Strategeist).

It was a very thought provoking session with the panel and audience discussion. And the big takeway for me is that social media and its practitioners need to accept that we live within a particular social and legal context.

No matter how much we ‘social media’ types decry how poorly the law is setup to deal with what we do everyday, that is the situation we must deal with. The law moves much more slowly than changes in technology, and, upon consideration, maybe that’s not such a bad thing?

For example, Damian Damjanovski argued: “A lot of people out there use it as a personal communications method. There are lots of people with no more than 70 followers . When did we get to the point that this is suddenly publishing and should be treated as such?”

The fact is ordinary people are doing something that was once privileged – publishing. We are publishing content in many places now in the same ways that publishers (who have lawyers vetting much of their content) have for years.

Now that everywoman and everyman is a publisher we need to understand the rights and obligations that come with publication. We are no longer having a chat about something over dinner or at the pub with a bunch of mates. We are posting content (pretty much) for perpetuity and complaining when there are legal ramifications associated with that act.

It all made me think that perhaps a good topic for another Digital Citizens session would be about the legal issues associated with the act of publication on the web? Since, while Adrian Dayton was great, it would have been handy to have Australian lawyer on the panel.

A brief write-up of the event is also available on mUmBRELLA

8 comments

  1. Is Twitter a social chat or is it Publishing?… Sounds like a good topic for next meeting.

    Problem with using social media as a publishing method is that there is no editor overlooking your tweets with a black texter.
    Free for all, if anybody is watching at the time you tweet

  2. I think the naivety about what you can say online isn’t limited to defamation; people don’t seem to understand the whole range of consequences of their online behaviour.

    Assuming journalists are across these issues is dangerous as well. It seems to me a lot of journalists have been protected from these consequences by their employers and so haven’t paid the attention they should.

    Social networking tools are just another facet of society and we need to accept most, if not all, of our society’s standards apply equally online.

  3. I’d put it much more strongly than that, Kate.

    Someone who works in the advertising industry, Damian Damjanovski actually said “When did we get to the point that this is suddenly publishing and should be treated as such?” Um, the moment you transmitted the information to one other person, Damien. Just like it’s been for decades and decades.

    Damian’s not alone here, of course. Far from it. But I think the phrase “dangerously ignorant” could have be used a few times.

    How someone gets to work in advertising without this basic knowledge of media law is another essay in itself…

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